Wednesday 21 December 2011

Bara Brith - a little bit of Welsh hospitality from my home to yours!

I was making one of these cakes this morning for my elderly next-door neighbour and it occurred to me that I should share it with you all.  It’s a traditional bit of Welsh hospitality, and there are as many variations as there are families in Wales I should think!  No Sunday Tea round at Mam’s would be complete without a plate of buttered Bara Brith.  It’s as comforting to us as mother’s milk!  In my family this is a real institution, my cousin and I seem to have either a batch of Bara Brith or Welsh Cakes on the go constantly! 

I make it now for the cricket club teas and it disappears as though a plague of locusts hit the buffet!  

This is my version, it’s a fat free cake and just about the simplest you can imagine making.  It does require some planning, as the fruit has to be soaked overnight (or for several hours) but after that you simply stir in a beaten egg and some flour - what could be easier.  It tastes deliciously rich, and belies the simplicity of its making.

You can ring the changes and make it a little bit more special by using different fruits and nice tea.  It’s particularly nice made with Earl Grey tea, and even better with Lady Grey tea.  For Christmas I always like to make it with the addition of dried cranberries to the fruit mix. 

The basic recipe is : 

12oz of dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas)
8oz light muscovado sugar (don’t get hung up on this, I often use soft brown sugar)
½ pint of strong hot tea 

1 egg, beaten
10oz self raising flour 

Make up half a pint of strong tea. 

Place the dried fruit and sugar together in a bowl and add the tea, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Cover with a clean cloth and leave overnight for the fruit to swell and absorb the tea.

The next day, simply beat an egg and stir into the fruit mixture, then stir in the flour and mix well. 

Turn into a lined 2lb loaf tin and cook at 150oC (between 275/300oF) for 1½ to 1¾  hours, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 to 10 minutes and then turn onto a rack to cool completely. 

Best served sliced thickly and buttered (thickly!), with a nice cup of tea on the side!

I would like to dedicate this particular recipe to my dear neighbour, Peg.  I always give her one of these for Christmas, and on odd occasions through the year we often share a loaf; this is her favourite cake!

(Bara Brith is pronounced Bar - as in barrel, a - as in apple, Bri - as in Brit and th - as in thanks.  Translated, it means speckled bread)


  1. Sounds great, and easy to do! Thank you for sharing, and give greetings to your neighbor. My mom is visiting from Canada for mother's day - I'm going to make this for her. I'll share your story!

  2. Thank you so much for this post. It returned to me a recipe I'd thought long lost. I made a slightly amended version of your recipe this weekend and wrote a blog about the process - with a link back to your original post and thanks for your good instructions. You can find a link to the blog on my timeline or in my News of the Day. Thank you again for sharing the recipe.